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North-south political divide? Not really, says new research

22:09 05/06/2019

While Belgium's French and Dutch-speaking communities voted very differently in last month's elections, their views on most of the main politicial issues are broadly the same, according to a new study jointly conducted by five Belgian universities.

The election results favoured right-wing parties N-VA and Vlaams Belang in Flanders, while Wallonia veered more to the left. But the political values of the Flemish and Walloons are not so divergent after all, say researchers from Antwerp, Leuven, Louvain-la-Neuve, ULB and VUB.

In both regions, the highest number of respondents to the research (36%) identified themselves as being in the centre of the political spectrum. The left-right split among the other respondents is similar in Flanders and Wallonia.

The two groups agreed on several issues - such as more tax on the wealthy and giving shops the freedom to choose when to run their sales. On both sides of the language divide, there is strong demand for a minimum pension of €1,500 per month.

The big issue where opinion was more divergent was immigration - where respondents in Flanders were positioned more to the right than those in Wallonia.

Asked to pick the issues that mattered most to them when voting, Flemish respondents chose immigration, followed by social security and tax. In Wallonia, the top three were employment, the environment and social security.

Photo: Eric Lalmand/Belga

Written by The Bulletin


Frank Lee

Ask anyone you know, and you'll hear most people describing themselves as centrists. People tend to think they're middle class (even if they're millionaires), open-minded (to people and ideas that are not too out there), and smarter than the average Belgian (if most Belgians are above the average, then how do we compute the average?).

Jun 6, 2019 14:47

Surprising about the pension. In the UK, the minimum pension (if you've worked 35 years or more) works out at about €750.

Jun 6, 2019 15:30